That’s the sort of thing these older-and-wiser players provide.
‘‘You need a presence in your locker room,’’ former NFL player and coach Herm Edwards said. ‘‘There are a lot of guys coming into the league with talent, but you need what I call ‘a pro’s pro.’ They do things right in the classroom, on the practice field, in the locker room. I always tell young guys to watch how the older guys prepare. You practice and prepare more than you play. I don’t think everybody realizes that.’’
Gonzalez fills that role with the Falcons, certainly, and he’s not a solo act.
Atlanta linebacker Mike Peterson, who is 36, pointed out that his club benefits from having older players at various positions. Examples: Todd McClure, 35, at center; John Abraham, 34, on the defensive line; Asante Samuel, 32, in the secondary.
‘‘That’s the good thing about this team. ... You put all of us together, you come up with a veteran team that has won a lot of good ballgames,’’ Peterson said. ‘‘That’s what the younger guys lean on — the older guys in this locker room.’’
The oldest guy in the Patriots’ locker room is Brady, 35. Much as rookie quarterbacks took over the NFL this season — particularly Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson — no one should be stunned to see 13-year veteran Brady aiming for a sixth Super Bowl appearance while the first-year QBs are done.
New England’s 41-28 victory over Houston last weekend was Brady’s 17th playoff victory, breaking Joe Montana’s record for most by a quarterback.
Can’t hurt to have that kind of resume this time of year.
‘‘Preseason has a certain speed. The regular season has a certain speed. The playoffs have a certain speed. And then even the Super Bowl is a notch up from there,’’ said Joe Theismann, the quarterback on Washington Redskins teams that won the 1983 Super Bowl and reached another. ‘‘Even if you talk to Tom, who’s been to five, he would tell you that the others are a part of the path and this next one is the most important to him.’’
AP Sports Writers Josh Dubow in Santa Clara, Calif., Paul Newberry in Flowery Branch, Ga., and Howard Ulman in Foxborough, Mass., contributed to this report.
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